Climate Change and Health: The Day for Tomorrow

Elsevier, The Journal of Climate Change and Health, 2021,100062
Marcalee Alexander

Around the world, we are seeing signs of a febrile planet. Moreover, the prognosis is poor and the impact extends to all living beings. To reduce human morbidity and mortality we must take immediate action, rapidly reducing anthropogenic CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030 [1]. Yet, the structure of the medical field with subspecialization has required focused expertise from health care professionals with one consequence being a difficulty for many providers to have comprehensive awareness of the climate crisis. Nevertheless, we, as health care providers, must take a step back from our myopic existence and address this worldwide catastrophe.

The power of physicians in communications has been nefariously utilized by cigarette companies for advertising [2]. Now physicians must use the trust people have in us about health care information [3] and incorporate education about climate change and health into our practices. This may require forging new partnerships and relationships with professionals that have focused their lives on studying the environment, may work in a completely different arena such as communications or finance, and most importantly, with people that may be our own patients. Yet, as we address the “wicked problem” [4] we must each create our own story, moving ahead, even though we may not be considered in a positive light. As a physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) specialist, I have personally taken the challenge and will share my experiences, potential pitfalls and promises along the route.